My news feed is filled with people talking about Apple, the FBI, the DOJ and iPhone unlocking. What the hell is going on?
The FBI has an iPhone left behind by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, who, along with his wife, killed 14 people and injured others at his workplace in December. The FBI wants to unlock the phone so they can see if there’s anything helpful for their investigation. But there’s a problem: the phone’s data is encrypted; it can only be unlocked with Farook’s passcode and Farook is dead.
So why don’t they do what I do to unlock my bae’s iPhone? When he’s sleeping, I just press it against his thumb. They have Farook’s body. Why don’t they do that?
Whoa, you’re a creep. And they can’t do that because Farook’s phone is locked with a passcode not a fingerprint. Plus, the phone, which his work gave him, is an older model, an iPhone 5c which doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner.
Well. Why don’t they just look at the smudgy marks on the phone screen and try to guess his passcode?
Apple has built extra security into the iPhone: 1. It only lets you try 10 incorrect passcodes before it erases the data on the phone and 2. It makes you wait an increasingly long time between incorrect attempts. So the Department of Justice got a judge to force Apple to write special code that will turn those features off so that it can brute-force the passcode and open the phone.
Okay, well, what’s the problem?
Apple doesn’t want to write the special software. It specifically designed iPhones this way to make them secure, so that only a phone’s user would be able to get to the sensitive information stored within.
“Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices,” wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook in a public letter opposing the judicial order. “The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals.”